Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome (also called syndrome X or insulin-resistance syndrome) is a collection of conditions that often occur together and can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease. The causes of metabolic syndrome are complex and not well understood, but there is thought to be a genetic link. Being overweight or obese and physically inactive adds to your risk. As we get older, we tend to become less active and may gain excess weight. This weight is generally stored around the abdomen, which can lead to the body becoming resistant to the hormone insulin. This means that insulin in the body is less effective, especially in the muscles and liver. More than 35 per cent of Australian adults have metabolic syndrome. This is higher in people with diabetes.

Diagnosis

    Metabolic syndrome is not a disease in itself, but describes a collection of risk factors that often occur together. A person is diagnosed as having metabolic syndrome when they have any three or more of:

  • central obesity – excess fat in and around the stomach (abdomen)
  • raised blood pressure (hypertension)
  • high blood triglycerides
  • low levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL) – the ‘good’ cholesterol
  • impaired fasting glucose or diabetes. Impaired fasting glucose occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes, but would often be considered to be a pre- diabetic state.

    Insulin resistance increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and is found in most people with this form of diabetes. If the pancreas can’t produce extra insulin to overcome your body’s resistance, your blood glucose levels will rise and you will develop impaired fasting glucose or diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes frequently also have other features of metabolic syndrome and a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease. More than half of all Australians have at least one of the metabolic syndrome conditions as above.

    Management

    Incorporate as many positive lifestyle changes – eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and losing weight will dramatically reduce your risk of diseases associated with metabolic syndrome, such as diabetes and heart disease.

    Make dietary changes – eat plenty of natural wholegrain foods, vegetables and fruit. To help with weight loss, reduce the amount of food you eat and limit foods high in refined carbohydrates or sugar. Reduce saturated fats, which are present in meat, full-cream dairy and many processed foods. Stop drinking alcohol or atleast reduce your intake considerably.

    Increase your physical activity level – regular exercise can take many different forms depending on what suits you best. Try and do at least 30 minutes of exercise on at least five days of each week.

    Quit smoking – smoking increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer and lung disease. Quitting will have many health benefits, especially if you have metabolic syndrome.

    Medication may be required – lifestyle changes are extremely important in the management of the metabolic syndrome, but sometimes medication may be necessary to manage the different conditions. Some people will need to take antihypertensive tablets to control high blood pressure or lipid-lowering medications (or both) to keep blood pressure and cholesterol within the recommended limits. The most important thing is to reduce your risk of heart attack, diabetes and stroke.

    Stress management- increased cortisol levels increase the production of insulin, and in people with the metabolic syndrome this could be detrimental worsening their risk factors. Hence adequate stress relieving strategies needs to be implemented At Sivanna Health we have a team compromising of an Integrative Doctor, and Naturopath that specialises in Weight Loss and effective food Coaching, and a Life Coach to assist in effective stress reducing strategies.